Growing Reader


Celebrate Your Incredible Kids with These Books

by Miranda Rosbach

Image credit: Flashpop/Getty Images

If you’ve read a parenting book in the last decade, or even been assigned to read a team management book in the corporate world, you may have stumbled across this concept: Accentuate the Positive. People (kids included) like to feel that their contributions matter, that they matter. By pointing out the good in others, we help them feel valued and create momentum to perpetuate the same behavior. Basically, we all like to hear more of the good and less of the bad.

Celebrating your child comes in a variety of forms, but it doesn’t have to involve presents, cake, balloons, or a gala event. Celebrating your incredible kid takes only one thing: paying attention. Once you start focusing on what they excel at, simply tell your child, “Hey, I really appreciated when you did XYZ.” As kids continually see the good in themselves, they can look for those attributes in others.

These 12 books are geared towards fostering confidence and helping kids know just how incredible they are — exactly as they are!

  • Who Will You Be?

    by Andrea Pippins

    My little child, who will you be when you are grown? So begins this inquisitive tale of a mother asking her young child, the one with kind eyes, what attributes they will develop — characteristics similar to family members and friends that surround them. With sparse text and gentle images, this book honors the possibilities that await each beloved child.

    (Ages 3 - 6)

  • Happy Hair

    by Mechal Renee Roe

    Twelve top-notch hairdos, from ‘fro-hawks to pom-pom puffs, are all worn with confidence on the multiracial girls featured throughout these pages. An affirming reminder that cool curls and bomb braids are all beautifully made — a celebration of not just hair, but of the happy girls that sport each style.
    (Ages 3 - 7)

  • Just Like Me

    by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

    A collection of nearly 30 inspiring poems, each one celebrating the song inside every girl — be she shy, or full of conflicting feelings. One girl wishes for her daddy, while others dream of swapping homes. Each image is a kaleidoscope of color with textures layering on top of each other as a cast of racially diverse girls connect with their dreams, themselves, and each other. One of the most anticipated books of 2020, it is a sheer delight from cover to cover.

    (Ages 4 - 8)

  • Me: A Compendium

    by Wee Society

    Our first #bookfacefriday post way back in 2016 featured this fill-in-the-blank journal that is not only a visual delight (everything Wee Society touches epitomizes childhood in a wonder-filled way), but is also perfect for capturing a precise moment of childhood. We like to give this at birthday parties along with a colorful set of fine-point pens.

    (Ages 4 - 8)

  • The Bug Girl

    by Sophia Spencer and Margaret McNamara, illustrated by Kerascoët

    When Sophia was two years old her mother took her to a butterfly conservatory, and from that moment she fell in love with bugs. Immersing herself in the bug world, she read books about the little critters and noticed them wherever she went. In kindergarten her friends thought her bug fascination was cool, but by first grade kids began making fun of her unique interest. In an effort to make her daughter feel better Sophia’s mother reached out to other bug-enthusiasts around the world, and soon Sophia was able to connect with people who shared her interest. Sophia has appeared on television and co-authored her own story, complete with a section at the back of the book featuring facts about bugs, arthropods, and the people who study them. Lavishly illustrated, this was a quick favorite in our home.

    (Ages 4 - 8)

  • The Girl Who Named Pluto

    by Alice B. McGinty, illustrated by Elizabeth Haidle

    Venitia follows her classmates as they walk from the schoolhouse to the park, placing objects at varying intervals, each one representative of a different planet. At home, Venetia questions her Grandfather about scientific facts and the Greek and Roman mythology she is also learning about. When the Lowell Observatory announces the discovery of a ninth planet still in need of a name, Venetia smartly mentions that Pluto (Neptune’s brother) would be fitting. A series of correspondence takes place before it's unanimously decided that Pluto is the perfect name for the new planet. Not until Venetia is 89 does she put her eye to a century-old telescope and see the planet that she named.
    (Ages 4 - 8)

  • Yay! My Celebration Journal

    by Wee Society

    Unfold the dust jacket to discover a rainbow-coded calendar of events to mark one calendar year, then commit to celebrating zany holidays and learning more about the world in this vibrant, interactive kid’s journal. From measuring your foot, to creating an origami cat and National Tell a Joke Day, this book comes complete with postcards and stickers to make tracking each day a true celebration. (And don’t worry if you skip a day or two.) An ideal book to give or receive at the beginning of a new year, it'll be an instant hit regardless of when you start.

    (Ages 4 - 8)

  • I Am:...A Journal for Extraordinary Kids

    by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Chris Eliopoulos

    From the Ordinary People Change the World series comes this fill-in journal, complete with kid characters of prominent famous individuals throughout history. Ideal for children who know how to write, thoughtful prompts allow kids to share their own stories of self-discovery by tapping into the uniqueness that makes each kid tick. We especially love how light-hearted and positive this kid-centric journal is.

    (Ages 5 - 8)

  • Stand Up, Yumi Chung!

    by Jessica Kim

    Yumi Chung is the daughter of Korean immigrant parents. Her family owns a restaurant and her older sister is the golden child, already enrolled in medical school and still a teenager. Yumi attends the most privileged school in the area, but with no friends and not-good-enough grades she finds herself enrolled in a rigorous summer program that she’s dreading. Yumi’s real love is comedy — stand-up comedy — which she practices while knowing that she’ll never be allowed to become a comedian because of her strict, no-nonsense parents. When Yumi finds a comedy camp on accident and then is mistaken for another student, she doesn’t bother correcting the lie until the secret snowballs out of control. Told with humor throughout, multi-dimensional characters, smart dialogue, and a plot that propels readers to root for Yumi’s dream, this middle grade coming-of-age story is likely to steal your heart from the very start.

    (Ages 8 - 12)

  • Wink

    by Rob Harrell

    Twelve-year-old Ross Maloy doesn't want to be known as the "cancer kid" — or experience anything else that comes with that. But when he's diagnosed with a rare eye cancer, his friends seem to vanish. Navigating middle school is tough enough, but adding hair loss and eye goop doesn't make it any easier. Based on the author's experience, Wink is at once heartbreaking and hysterical as Ross attempts to thrive in this new world — no matter how weird. Featuring comic drawings dispersed throughout the text, this story will get kids familiar with a topic they may not have any experience with.

    (Ages 8 - 12)

  • Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen!

    by Sarah Kapit

    This epistolary middle grade novel is a perfectly-pitched standout. Eleven-year-old Vivy Cohen is determined to pursue her passion for baseball and she refuses to let anything get in the way – not her autism or her mother’s concern about her being the only girl on the team. With a major-league pitcher cheering her on as her pen pal and new friends, things are going well for Vivy... until a big accident lands her back on the bench. This story about embracing who you are and going after what you want is sure to inspire kids.

    (Ages 8 - 12)

  • Middle School’s a Drag, You Better Werk!

    by Greg Howard

    Mikey Pruitt is an enterprising 12-year-old who longs to follow in the footsteps of his successful grandfather, Pap Pruitt. Although Mikey has started a lot of business ventures, none of them have lasted. That is until he meets Julian (who is also Coco Caliente, an aspiring kid drag queen). Mikey launches his own Talent Agency and begins scouting other clients, all who might be able to win the $100 prize at the end-of-the-year middle school talent show. This affirming novel encourages readers to embrace their true selves (and others'), while also realistically showing both a supportive family and one that's still adjusting to the idea of having a gay child.

    (Ages 10+)